Kit Ma­chine

Classic Trial - - CONTENTS - Trial Mag­a­zine. Words: John Hulme • Pic­tures: Yoomee Ar­chive

Miller Honda

In 1974 when my fa­ther Ron took de­liv­ery of his Honda TL 125 from John Tay­lor Mo­tor­cy­cles in Stoke, it was quite a time for change at the Hulme house­hold. On fur­ther in­spec­tion I quite un­der­stood why he was so at­tracted to the lit­tle Honda as the qual­ity of com­po­nents was sec­ond to none. Power and per­for­mance wise, how­ever, it was not any­where near as good as the Span­ish op­po­si­tion. In six months it was traded in at MacDon­ald Mo­tor­cy­cles for, you can guess, a Bul­taco. The Honda tri­als suc­cess story continued with Sammy Miller at the helm. He spon­sored a tri­als team on the con­verted TL 125cc ma­chines. The Sammy Miller Hon­das fea­tured the Hi-Boy frame and var­i­ous up­grade parts. Th­ese were rid­den with mod­er­ate suc­cess un­til the full fac­tory ma­chines ar­rived from Ja­pan. Miller guided them to their first Bri­tish ti­tle with Rob Shep­herd in 1977. Wind the clock for­ward to 2018 and my good friend in Italy Justyn Norek con­tacted me to say that he had a very old Miller 125cc Honda to test, what did I think? My an­swer was a def­i­nite Yes Please! It opened the door for this ar­ti­cle, which takes us back to the early days of our sister pub­li­ca­tion

As an in­tro­duc­tion to the Justyn Norek story, we take a quick look back at a test we car­ried out in 2008 on the Sammy Miller Prod­ucts Honda TL 150cc pro­duced by Richard Jordan. With the great man Miller moving his in­ter­ests to his superb mu­seum he sold the Sammy Miller Prod­ucts busi­ness to Jordan. Look­ing at new ideas he had re­pro­duced the frame kits that Miller had first pro­duced in 1974–1975.

Starter Ma­chine

As an in­tro­duc­tion to the grow­ing clas­sic tri­als scene the stan­dard Honda TL 125 could still be found for a rea­son­able amount of money so why not re­pro­duce the frame kits? In 2008, and with all the cur­rent mar­ket in­ter­est in the twin-shock tri­als ma­chines, es­pe­cially the club­man want­ing a fun day out, it would pos­si­bly be a good idea to re-mar­ket the Honda TL but with the Hi-Boy frame and all the as­so­ci­ated ac­ces­sories made avail­able.

Richard con­tacted Sammy Miller to see if the old frame jig was still avail­able. Af­ter a while, Sammy came back on the phone to re­port that all was well and he could sup­ply the rel­e­vant parts of the orig­i­nal jig to re­pro­duce the frame. They still re­quired a base-point to start the project, and he went about try­ing to find orig­i­nal Miller HI-Boy Honda tri­als con­ver­sion. He found one of the peo­ple who worked on the frames, an ex-Rick­man En­gi­neer­ing em­ployee, who was more than happy to as­sist with the new one. With many ad­vances in en­gi­neer­ing tak­ing place over the years since the first frame kits were first con­structed it was de­cided to ap­ply th­ese to the new frame. A small pro­duc­tion run was car­ried out and they all pretty much sold be­fore they were fin­ished — we think around 30 in to­tal.

On Trial

At the time Richard had Mick An­drews as­sist­ing him with his new Honda and Mick had a ride in the 2008 Nos­tal­gia Trial on the new 150cc Hi-Boy Honda. Mick An­drews: “For me, this is an ideal way to get you into clas­sic tri­als. The ma­chine is not ag­gres­sive, just very easy to ride. No power surge al­though the en­gine does have more ‘go’ than I first thought it would have. Sus­pen­sion is down to in­di­vid­ual re­quire­ments, and the only com­plaint I have is it seems a lit­tle stiff on the rear sus­pen­sion.

"I find it so easy to ride, the en­gine is so flex­i­ble, which makes for a good be­gin­ner ma­chine al­though I think a com­pe­tent rider would sur­prise many on the Miller Honda”.

Rid­ing as a guest, Mick would not qual­ify for any awards but it did give him the op­tion to try the ex­pert route on the dreaded sec­tion fif­teen, the steep hill climb. The club­man route veered off be­fore the steep­est part of the climb and Mick ini­tially tried this in bot­tom gear, ex­pect­ing the en­gine to run out of power, but he was pleas­antly sur­prised as he got to the top with the aid of a quick dab. Never one to be beaten, he quickly shot down to the bot­tom of the sec­tion for an­other go but this time in sec­ond gear.

It was a plea­sure to watch the old master at work as he forced the lit­tle 150cc ma­chine to the top of the climb on sheer rid­ing abil­ity; the nick­name ‘Mag­i­cal’ was very ev­i­dent! As Mick orig­i­nally ex­plained, this ma­chine is ideal for the fun fac­tor some­times miss­ing in modern tri­als. If you know where there is an old Honda TL 125cc pur­chase it and start en­joy­ing your tri­alling!

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